The Valley of the Shadow of Death (without canonballs) by Roger Fenton, 1855
Michael Kamber is a veteran photojournalist and founder of the Bronx Documentary Center. His is also co-curator of the BDC’s new exhibition Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography.
The show comes at a time when Michael says the photojournalism profession faces a “crisis in credibility,” as illustrated by numerous high profile incidents of photographers staging images or manipulating their pictures excessively in photoshop. Just last year judges of the prestigious World Press Photo competition disqualified 20% of their semifinalists for altering their photographs. In this years competition the photographer Giovanni Troilo was disqualified for staging a photo of his cousin and his girlfriend having sex in a car.
In Michael’s exhibition Altered images he puts these recent examples in historical context, by placing them with some infamous fabrications from history. The show also looks at the ways that photo editors, totalitarian governments, and misleading captions can influence the meaning and news value of an image.
Last week I got a chance to chat with Michael over Skype about Altered images and how technology is changing public attitudes towards truth and credibility in news photography.
Spanish Wake, 1951, by W. Eugene Smith – Smith altered the women’s eyes in the darkroom to make the image more dramatic
Image depicting Stalin, circa 1930, with the cheif of the Soviet secret police, Nikolai Yezhov. Yezhov was arrested and executed for treason in 1940 and his image was retouched out of official photographs.
Charleroi, Belgum by Giovanni Trolio, 2014 – Trolio’s image was disqualified from the World Press Photo competition after it emerged that the image was staged.
Basra Iraq, March 30, 2003, photo by Brian Walksi, – This image, taken during the beginning of the Iraq War and ran on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, was composited from two separate digital files. Walsi was fired for violating the paper’s code of ethics.
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